The Sun and Moon

8 August 2016

The solar system is one of the very first things that a child will learn about in school. Children will learn why there is night and day, why there are seasons, the different shapes of the moon, and all of that important stuff that is too easily forgotten, as time progresses. But whether one retains the basic knowledge of Earth’s sun and moon or not, the facts (similarities and differences) of these two celestial objects, are still very important. Without these facts, science would not be the same, nor would it have nearly the same amount of innumerable breakthroughs that it has today.

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To fully understand the similarities of Earth’s sun and moon, one must first be aware of their differences. It is easiest to start with the basics and then build on those basic facts with more details, just how one learned back in elementary, middle and high school. The sun can basically be described as a yellow, dwarf star and has more mass than all of the planets, asteroids, and moons in the solar system (the Milky Way) combined. The sun is so big, in fact, that it would take about 333,000 Earths to equal the mass of the sun.

While, moon on the other hand, is smaller than the Earth and is thought to be a large mass of dense material (Furto, 2013). After scientists performed a couple of bombings on the moon, the scientists found that the moon rings, almost like a bell, which has caused some people to speculate that the interior of the moon is hollow and metallic (Recomparison). This is also another way that the sun and moon differ, since it is common knowledge that the sun is, basically, a big ball of hot, glowing gases, and not a, potentially, hollow mass of ringing material.

Yet another difference between the sun and the moon is that the moon revolves around the sun, while the sun basically remains stationary. Also the differentiation of size between the sun and moon is yet another major difference between these two orbs. The sun, on one hand, is a huge star that is about 865,000 miles in diameter, while the moon, is a ball of only a mere 2,200 miles in diameter. This is such a huge size difference that about 76 million moons could actually fit into the sun with a little bit of room to spare. Once again, the sun is much larger and has a tremendous amount of mass.

The mass of the sun is about 27 million times more than the mass of the moon. This is fact also helps to explain one of the other differences between the sun and the moon, their gravitational pull (Cain, 2008). While it could be considered a similarity that they both provide the Earth with gravity, it shall be considered a difference for the moment, because the sun has a greater force of gravity than the moon, due to the size difference. It’s this gravitational interaction that gives the Earth its orbit around the sun, and the tiny pull of the moon just causes the Earth to wobble a bit in its movements.

When the sun and the moon are pulling on the Earth from the same direction, their gravity adds up, and we get the largest spring tides, and then, when they’re on opposite sides of the Earth, their forces cancel out somewhat (Cain, 2008). As mentioned above, the Earth experiences two high tides per day because of the difference in the moon’s gravitational field at the Earth’s surface and at its center. One could say that there is a high tide on the side nearest and the opposite sides of the moon, because the moon pulls the water away from the Earth.

And even though the sun is 391 times as far away from the Earth as the moon, its force on the Earth is about 175 times as large. Yet, its tidal effect is smaller than that of the moon because tides are caused by the difference in gravity field across the Earth (Georgia State University). Another difference between the sun and the moon is the amount of light each one gives off, as well as how strong the light is. On one hand, you have the sun, without which life could not exist in this solar system. The sun provides Earth with light during the day and the moon however, seems to be the light at night.

Which is actually a false assumption. The moon actually distributes no light whatsoever, it merely reflects the light of the sun (Recomparison). It is more like a mirage or a mirror, because it is just reflecting the light from the sun, not actually producing much light, if any, of its own. Now that some of the main differences have been explained, it is time to explain some of the similarities between the sun and the moon. Besides the obvious similarities of them both being celestial orbs floating around in space, and that they are specific to Earth’s solar system, there are two main similarities between the sun and moon.

One very big similarity is the vast amount of information that is not known about the two, and the “strangeness” that scientists have observed about them. For instance, in January of 2010, the Internet began buzzing about SOHO (The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory spacecraft) images which seem to show large spherical, reflective objects in the corona of the sun (Recomparison). Scientists are also pondering the reason that light seems to peak through cracks on the lunar surface.

The suns composition is also in question by a few scientists, but not all can agree on what the sun is or isnt, the same goes for the moon. Some scientists are also puzzled as to why the sun and the moon are so large in comparison to the planet, Earth. It is comparatively larger in relation to the Earth than any other moon or sun in comparison to its planet. Recently, photographic evidence has come out showing structures on the moon, which have not been explained by anyone nor are there any plans for humans to investigate the moon in a meaningful way (Recomparison).

Another easy similarity is that humankind can not currently sustain life on either the sun or the moon. As it was mentioned before, gravity can be considered both a similarity and a difference when writing a compare and contrast essay on the sun and moon. But now that gravity has been described as a difference, it can now be looked at as a similarity. Both the sun and the moon have their own personal gravity and they affect the gravitational pull of everything and everyone on Earth.

The gravity is not the same on each of these three things, because of the vast difference between their masses, but the gravitational pulls on the sun and the moon, balance each other out here on Earth. Since the moon is much smaller than Earth, this means that the moon’s gravity is less than Earth’s. The gravity on the moon is actually about one-sixth of the gravity on Earth, while the sun has an immense mass, it also has an immense amount of gravity, and with the Earth caught in the middle of the two, the pull more-or-less evens out.

In conclusion, there are many things that humanity has learned, and still has yet to learn about outer space, but without what we already know, there are many things that society would not have or be able to do today. Because of what scientists have learned about Earth’s solar system, the world has seen phenomenal breakthroughs in science and technology. For instance, anything that runs off of solar energy or most anything eco-friendly would not be around, because society would not have the knowledge about what these things would do for humanity or what would happen to the world without them.

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